They thought that the odyssey of iFixit with iPhones of 2019 was it over? Because the repair site decided to go even deeper in the dismantling: now, they focused their efforts specifically on U1, chip found in the new iPhones and responsible for emitting the so-called ultra-wideband waves (which, eventually, will work together with the speculated ones “Apple Tags”).
By dissecting the component, iFixit discovered that Apple is using its own unique design – it was previously suspected that the U1 was simply a chip from the manufacturer Decawave (the DW1000) with the name changed, but apparently this is not the case.
The fact that the chip is designed by Apple itself, however, need not cause concern: Decawave itself issued a statement stating that the U1 is compatible with the company’s solutions and with any IEEE 802.15.4 standard transmitter / receiver. With that, we can expect that the new iPhones will use the new chip to communicate with various types of third-party accessories, and not only with the supposed “Apple Tags” – this, however, will only be confirmed when (or if) the Apple moves and reveal your plans in the area.
IFixit also analyzed some technical details of the U1. The chip uses a much larger frequency spectrum than protocols like Wi-Fi or the Bluetooth (two technologies that focus on a specific frequency); in addition, ultra-wideband technology works – as the name implies – on very wide channels, 500MHz.
With this, we have a significant advance in signal speed and latency, in addition to avoiding the infamous interference problems. IFixit itself draws a parallel, stating that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth work like a small pipe transferring water from one place to another with debris and stones hindering the flow; the ultra-wideband, on the other hand, uses several wider pipes to transfer water at a much greater speed – and without rocks in the way.
All this technology just makes us ask: what are Apple’s plans for U1, anyway? Of course, we already have the use of the chips in the new AirDrop interface and the “Apple Tags” should be presented soon, but will we be left alone? The company could very well, as iFixit recalls, use the ultra-wide band to revive the iBeacon, Apple technology (currently based on Bluetooth) for locating people in places such as shops, airports and museums.
Going beyond that, imagination is the limit – we have the potential for good uses of technology in smart locks, vehicles, furniture, augmented reality applications and countless other products and services. Therefore, it is hoped that this invasion will not take long.